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US waiters' worst conduct

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kennethpollock, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Arethusa

    Arethusa Distinguished Member

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    Expresso
    Espresso. If you're going to be this critical, you'd better be perfect.

    This, right here, is why I think KP's satire.
     


  2. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    Would you say that those "Large chains" have been gradually influencing mid-range restaurants in the US in how service is performed?

    I think so. It's interesting, because the mid-level chain restaurants are somewhat of a recent invention. When I was growing up in the '70s and '80s, there were "good restaurants" where you would go for a great meal and a more subdued, formal atmosphere, and fast food places (McDonald's, etc.) or diner style places (either local or like Friendly's or Howard Johnson's). The fast food and diner style places were where you took your young children, because sitting through a meal at a good restaurant would be boring for them and, in turn, stressful and unenjoyable for their parents.

    Then, along came restaurants like TGI Fridays, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, etc. These were meant to cater to both children and adults. They give the adults a more formal meal than they could get at a fast food place or diner, while providing quick service and foods that children will like. This gives adults the option to go to a "real" restaurant with their children, rather than a diner or fast food place. They also cater to a younger, single crowd by having separate bars with a menu of specialty cocktails (along with standard alcoholic drinks).

    A lot of what Ken Pollack describes in his list of pet peeves results from the above. These restaurants have put procedures into place that make them more "family friendly" (a lot of these procedures are on Ken's list). They have also developed menus which have many more chioices, which has forced more long standing restaurants to become more innovative (see Friendly's as one example - they have far more menu choices now than when I was growing up - see Howard Johnson's as another - they've basically gone out of business). Further, at least in my area, some locally owned restaurants have sprung up with similar themes (family friendly, not a diner, but still less formal, etc.).

    Perhaps some of this has lead to similar wait staff behavior in more upscale restaurants. I haven't really noticed it on a consistent basis.
     


  3. Fabienne

    Fabienne Distinguished Member

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    What I have noticed with my child is that he is typically well-mannered in a quiet restaurant, not upscale, but "elegantly mid-range". One time, we took him to one of those faster paced places to meet friends in another town, and he was so distracted by the activity and loud music that he started acting up, barely ate a thing. I guess it's what you're used to? Our house is very quiet, the TV hardly ever on.
     


  4. kennethpollock

    kennethpollock Senior Member

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    I think so. It's interesting, because the mid-level chain restaurants are somewhat of a recent invention. When I was growing up in the '70s and '80s, there were "good restaurants" where you would go for a great meal and a more subdued, formal atmosphere, and fast food places (McDonald's, etc.) or diner style places (either local or like Friendly's or Howard Johnson's). The fast food and diner style places were where you took your young children, because sitting through a meal at a good restaurant would be boring for them and, in turn, stressful and unenjoyable for their parents.

    Then, along came restaurants like TGI Fridays, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, etc. These were meant to cater to both children and adults. They give the adults a more formal meal than they could get at a fast food place or diner, while providing quick service and foods that children will like. This gives adults the option to go to a "real" restaurant with their children, rather than a diner or fast food place. They also cater to a younger, single crowd by having separate bars with a menu of specialty cocktails (along with standard alcoholic drinks).

    A lot of what Ken Pollack describes in his list of pet peeves results from the above. These restaurants have put procedures into place that make them more "family friendly" (a lot of these procedures are on Ken's list). They have also developed menus which have many more chioices, which has forced more long standing restaurants to become more innovative (see Friendly's as one example - they have far more menu choices now than when I was growing up - see Howard Johnson's as another - they've basically gone out of business). Further, at least in my area, some locally owned restaurants have sprung up with similar themes (family friendly, not a diner, but still less formal, etc.).

    Perhaps some of this has lead to similar wait staff behavior in more upscale restaurants. I haven't really noticed it on a consistent basis.


    About the only "chain" places where I eat regularly and which I like: Ruth's Chris (very democratic place; gets all types, including lots of the "lower class" really splurging, and the staff being very nice to everyone), on the high end, and Johnny Rockets, close to being fast food, on the opposite. I am certainly not an expert on chains, as I have never eaten at Outback or Olive Garden, and only once at Red Lobster, but aren't there 4-5 different catagories:
    (a) High end, and mostly steak, like Ruth's Chris, Morton's, the Palm, Capital Grille, and Smith & Wollensky.
    (b) Upper middle, like Houston's and that Italian place I cannot remember the name of, the one that serves gargantian portions, etc.
    (c) Middle, like Olive Garden, Longhorn's, Outback, Steak & Ale, Houlihan's, Cheesecake Factory, Tony Roma's, Copeland's, etc.
    (c) Lower middle, like Applebee's, Golden Corral, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday's, Denny's, etc.
    (d) The bottom; fast-food (believe it or not, sometimes called "food hells" in the 1950's), like McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell and Burger King.

    PS-the one I could not think of in (b) above is Maggiano's Little Italy
     


  5. Bouji

    Bouji Senior Member

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  6. AlanC

    AlanC Minister of Trad

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    My wife and I generally eat at the middle to upper middle of Ken's range, sometimes going high end. Obviously, fast food hell also gets a fair amount of our business, especially when on the road (we generally eat at Taco Bell or Chic-fil-a when going fast food, our children won't eat burgers or fries and we didn't program them that way). The shame of the poor service and mid-level environment is that it doesn't teach people how to act properly in more refined settings. My two older sisters, alas, are both very put off by higher end restaurants. I think they are simply uncomfortable with what they recognize as higher expectations. Now I'm by no means up on the intricacies of fine dining etiquette, but much of it is simply being comfortable in one's environment.

    I think most people are similar to my sisters in that they want to wear jeans, etc. when they go out to eat, even at a 'nice' place. They also prefer a buddy-buddy relationship with the wait staff. This helps to allay expectations, and is fed by the egalitarian mindset of Americans (particularly) in that we deem it wrong somehow for someone to wait on us. There is the flip side that many view waiting tables as somehow demeaning, and thus want to be placed on a level with those whom they are to be serving. Add in the chain restaurant mentality, which is basically sit-down fast food, and you get the issues that Ken has outlined.
     


  7. mano

    mano Senior Member

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    Ken is not as intollerant and uptight as some of you imply. When in France he hangs out with his friend, Ernest, the fellow with good taste but horrible manners.
     


  8. globetrotter

    globetrotter Stylish Dinosaur

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  9. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Distinguished Member

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    i am a 'snob'; i believe you get what you pay for.

    as time goes on, good service gets more expensive, bad service gets cheaper. them's the breaks. picassos go for millions, bad art gets dumped in the trash.
     


  10. howbah

    howbah Senior Member

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    About the only "chain" places where I eat regularly and which I like: Ruth's Chris (very democratic place; gets all types, including lots of the "lower class" really splurging, and the staff being very nice to everyone), on the high end, and Johnny Rockets, close to being fast food, on the opposite. I am certainly not an expert on chains, as I have never eaten at Outback or Olive Garden, and only once at Red Lobster, but aren't there 4-5 different catagories:
    (a) High end, and mostly steak, like Ruth's Chris, Morton's, the Palm, Capital Grille, and Smith & Wollensky.
    (b) Upper middle, like Houston's and that Italian place I cannot remember the name of, the one that serves gargantian portions, etc.
    (c) Middle, like Olive Garden, Longhorn's, Outback, Steak & Ale, Houlihan's, Cheesecake Factory, Tony Roma's, Copeland's, etc.
    (c) Lower middle, like Applebee's, Golden Corral, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday's, Denny's, etc.
    (d) The bottom; fast-food (believe it or not, sometimes called "food hells" in the 1950's), like McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell and Burger King.

    PS-the one I could not think of in (b) above is Maggiano's Little Italy



    categories

    gargantuan


    Please try to do better.

    Illiteracy is so offensive to the truly civilized.
     


  11. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    Ernest does not have horrible manners, in person.
     


  12. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    They also prefer a buddy-buddy relationship with the wait staff. This helps to allay expectations, and is fed by the egalitarian mindset of Americans (particularly) in that we deem it wrong somehow for someone to wait on us.

    I think this is an interesting observation, and definitely factors into my thinking and some of the positions I have taken on this thread. I don't know if I necessarily prefer a "buddy-buddy" relationship with the wait staff, but I do go out of my way to be extremely polite to my waiters or waitresses. I imagine that this is due, in part, to a certain unconscious guilt on my part regarding being waited upon. I blame my mother. [​IMG]
     


  13. mano

    mano Senior Member

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    Ernest does not have horrible manners, in person.

    No doubt. He is obviously bright and I'm sure that for periods of time he can be quite charming and engaging, the same as many others with sociopathic tendencies.
     


  14. kennethpollock

    kennethpollock Senior Member

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    I think that it was Will Rogers who said: “Never underestimate the intelligence of the American Public.” I am not so sure about this.
    I do not trust the polls and surveys run by the giant restaurant chains. If true, Mr. Rogers was right, but I suspect that it is the polling, instead. I think most politicos know that it is the wording you use and how you phrase the question, which will get you the desired answer. That is why they say “Pro-Choice” versus Pro-Life” instead of using “Anti-Choice” versus "Anti-Life.” Of course, the correct term to use is asking whether one is for or against the legalization of abortion. Back in the Civil Rights era, “integrating” the schools was not as popular in the polls as was “desegregating” them.

    I can just imagine the questions that were asked by the pollsters:
    1. Do you prefer a friendly waiter or an aloof one?
    2. Do you want your waiter to be warm and informal or distant and correct, etc?

    Just watch the results if I could ask the dining public:
    1.\tWhen a totally unknown waiter approaches you at a chain restaurant and turns “cartwheels” because he is so glad to see you, do you think it is because of your movie-star looks, grooming and attire or do you think that it is some sort of contrived act?
    2.\tWhen a totally unknown waiter approaches you at a chain restaurant and introduces himself to you by his first name, do you think that he is being genuinely warm, friendly, and personal, or is just doing what the management in all 200+ restaurants in the chain make all of their waiters say to all customers, etc.?

    I think the posters in this thread are probably a fair cross-section of the dining public. I think that most of them seem to agree with me at least in part as to my complaints about GCHS (see above for meaning). It would therefore appear to me that the American dining public are not idiots, but know that GCHS is just a con and is improper service. I think that Fabienne is correct; most of the American dining public are sheep who will not complain, even if they are offended. Even I rarely complain to the waiter and only occasionally to management. I am a sheep, too.
     


  15. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red "Mr. Fashionista"

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    So, it seems that it is acknowledged that the behavior that I dislike stems from "studies" that giant restaurant chains have done about what appeals to, or could be fostered upon, middle-American and lower types of customers

    The word you are groping for is "foisted," as in "The irksome behaviors foisted on the American dining public by chain restaurant waitstaff as acceptable service are enough to make an old fart like me apoplectic."

    This is the third time, by my count, that you have made this same mistake.
     


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